Sticky Like Tar

There is a lake that I know. My earliest memories are of swimming in the lake, completely submerged, eyes open underwater, exploring everything there was to see. The water was so clear it gave the illusion of being able to breathe, and I spent all my time lodged deep inside, never wanting to go home again for dinner.

Some fall, the rains came down hard and pushed the creek over the bend and it all flowed into the lake and the water became cloudy. Swimming in the lake was still fun, but I came out smelling like doubt.

A fire in the forest near the lake left the land barren, and the rains came again and this time they brought mud and debris, and pieces of trees, and something started killing all the fish.

The summer of the acid rain, I tried to build a gas mask from an empty milk carton because I thought I could take the pain if I could still spend my days swimming in my lake.

By winter the black and foul composition curdled and froze into something sticky like tar

I walked back that summer only to become stuck

in the hateful sticky dirty oasis of my days

I don’t know how long I stayed

There is a lake I know. I visit it often out of a combination of nostalgia and masochistic tendencies. The water burns my skin like alcohol in an open wound, but it also transforms me. I’m burdened by my ability to walk away from this place because of how it has consumed me, but I’m too sentimental to stop coming back.

I dip my toes in, and I close my eyes and when I blink them open I find scripture across my arms in runes, paintings on my stomach engendered by filth, the entire contents of the sky drawn in needle scratches across the screens in the back of my eyes. I wake up in searing pain, feel the toxins tracing tributaries through my extremities, but covered in living art.

I’m only home when I am on fire.

I’m only whole when I’m torn apart.

Ashley Wylde
January 28th, 2015

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